Nowadays the radio and the car are an inseparable pair. In fact, more than 80% of drivers listen to the radio every day during their commutes, according to the Association of European Radios (AER). On the occasion of World Radio Day, we are taking a look back at this ever-present travelling companion over the past six decades:
-The radio, a luxury item: The first units of the 600 were not even equipped with door mirrors, seatbelts or radios. “Although today it may seem hard to believe, in the 60's the radio was a luxury item and on the SEAT 600 it was an option sold separately”, recalls Jaume Sala, the head of Interior Design at SEAT.
More than 80% of drivers listen to music on their daily commutes.
-Music on the go: The first SEAT Ibiza was launched in the 80's, when cassette radios were popular in cars. “It was a great breakthrough, as for the first time you could bring along your own music to listen to”, says Jaume. Years later, a further step forward was taken with the removable cassette radio: “Who doesn’t remember getting out of the car with that hunk of metal under their arm?” he relives.
-The arrival of screens and voice controls: Car integrated screens made their debut beginning in the 90's. “Going from hand selecting your favourite radio station to having something close to a computer in your car and giving it spoken commands has been a genuine revolution”, he assures. “You can tell your car to turn on the radio with a single word and choose what to listen to”.
-Screens are at the centre of everthing: Car interior designers have adapted to the evolution of new technologies, and the screen is precisely the first major element that they work with. “In the past we used to design the interior and then figure out where the radio should be located. Today, on the other hand, it’s quite the opposite – first we locate the screen and then design the rest around it”, says Jaume. It goes to show that at SEAT there is a growing number of car interior designers.
-1,000 sketches and 3,000 icons: Designing the screen of a car requires a year and a half of work and 1,000 sketches. In order to create the screen of the new SEAT Arona, 3,000 icons and pictograms were designed. It measures eight inches across, around 20 centimetres, similar in size to a tablet. “Gone are the buttons and dials, here to stay are bigger and better screens with more and more functions”, he points out.
-Towards more sophisticated sound: In the first 600's, the noise of the engine would drown out the sound coming from the radio. Over the years, systems have been developed that improve the sound quality in the interior of cars. Engineers in the Car Audio department at the SEAT Technical Centre have their work cut out for them since the initial development stages of a new model. They use tools normally found in recording studios to analyse which is the best location for speakers and sound projection. The goal is for all the vehicle occupants to enjoy the best possible sound experience.